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Who Became a Bishop

My Cousin knew Miss Watrous well and spoke highly of her character. Social intercourse and games of croquet brought us much together until our intimacy led on to respect and love. I frequently visited her from Claremont and Charlestown and in the autumn we became engaged. The uncertainty of my future work prevented our marriage until after Easter the following spring. My wife has been popular and a favorite in all my parishes and while I was active as Bishop she was the efficient president of the Woman's Auxiliary and Ladies' Guilds of the whole District. While I was in charge of Northern California, she visited all the parishes with me and organized branches of the Auxiliary in many places. She has always been very faithful in our home and made it the home as well of our parishioners and clergy. We have had six children, all of whom lived to grow up and become active communicants of the Church.
     After the rector of Charlestown returned from England, Bishop Niles of New Hampshire asked me to take charge of a mission at Littleton, in the northern part of the state. It was in the midst of the 'White Mountains, a beautiful and interesting country. An old house was bought there for a rectory, which I papered and fitted up with my own hands. On the second day of the following April, Easter Tuesday,. I was married to Miss Watrous and, for the first time since leaving my father's home sixteen years before, had a home of my own. The four years I spent at

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Littleton were happy and profitable. My salary was about one thousand dollars a year and we managed to lay by about one hundred dollars each year. Here two of our children were born. I started several missions in country school houses and one in the village of Whitefield, where a church has since been built. On one occasion, I took a long missionary trip with Rev. J. B. Goodrich into the north end of the state, where our Church was then unknown. On this trip we held the first services of our Church at Groveton and Colebrook.
     I often went camping and tramping among the mountains, sometimes with cousins from Yale College and sometimes with brother clergymen. One time I had a convocation of the clergy of eastern Vermont and western New Hampshire in a deserted logging camp back in the mountains. From such trips I became an expert trout fisherman. I climbed Mount Washington in the dead of winter and visited the Signal Service officers, one of whom had been an old schoolmate in Rutland. While there, the thermometer went down to twenty-eight degrees below zero and I froze my nose while going a few rods against the wind.
     While missionary at Littleton, I received calls to Cheyenne, Wyoming, and to Boise, Idaho, but my work seemed so prosperous and blessed where I was that I declined the distant and uncertain prospects in the far west. In 1880, a call came from St. Peter's Church, Bennington, Vermont, and as both the town

Who Became a Bishop

and church were larger and seemed to offer better opportunity for work, I felt it my duty to accept. We moved there in the summer. My family and goods went by train, but I drove our pony down the Connecticut Valley to Brattleboro and then across the Green Mountains to Bennington. As I look back upon it now, I doubt if the opportunity at Bennington proved any better than it was at Littleton. There were little villages and country school houses where I opened missions, holding services in them Sunday afternoons, but the Puritan prejudices inherited for over a hundred years seemed to hamper aggressive work for our Church. As the older people of the parish seemed to prefer written sermons to extempore, I improved the opportunity in writing many carefully prepared sermons which proved an invaluable help in my later and larger work in the west. In the three years I was there, I wrote seventy-seven sermons. For recreation I fished the trout streams in the summer and in the fall and winter hunted on the near mountains. Old as the country was, partridges, woodcock, rabbits and trout could be readily found, so I rarely went out for a few hours that I did not bring back all we needed for the table.
     The only trouble I ever had in a parish was here with the organist, who resigned because I insisted on my right to have something to say as to what hymns should be sung. However, that was only a slight ripple on the placid waters of a long and peaceful life-work. The bishops, vestries and committees with whom I have

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worked have always been reasonable and helpful. If I had laid the matter of the organist in Bennington before the vestry at first, it would have been the wiser course and the vestry would have saved me all trouble. All the people at Littleton and Bennington were warmly attached to me, as far as I could tell, and regretted the separation when I resigned.



N the fifteenth of June, 1883, Rev. D. B. Knickerbacker, D.D., rector of Gethsemane Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota, accepted the bishopric of Indiana, to which he had been elected. He recommended me to the vestry of Gethsemane, and I was immediately elected rector at a salary of one thousand and five hundred dollars a year. There seemed to open to me then the opportunity for aggressive work for which I had long prayed and waited. Dr. Knickerbacker had begun his work there twenty-seven years before in 1856. He had built the parish up from a small mission of less than a dozen communicants to be the largest and most active parish in the diocese. Although its people were not wealthy, Bishop Whipple spoke of it repeatedly in his annual addresses as leading the diocese both in con-

Who Became a Bishop

tributions and active works. It was no easy matter to follow Dr. Knickerbacker as rector who was not only endeared to his people but next to James Lloyd Breck was the most active missionary outside his parish in the American Church. While rector of a city church he started and maintained at one time or another more than a dozen outside missions. He had held missionary services and preached in more than a hundred different places in Minnesota. To him and the Brotherhood of Gethsemane (started long before St. Andrew's Brotherhood), the Church in Minnesota owes an inestimable debt. I accepted the rectorship of Gethsemane, where I had been assistant ten years before and succeeded him on the first of September, 1883.
     In the previous May the corner-stone for a new stone church for Gethsemane Parish had been laid to take the place of the dilapidated, wooden building which, with several enlargements, had served the parish for over twenty years. The walls of the new church were about ten feet high when I took charge in September. When the season for building closed in the fall the money paid on the subscriptions was all exhausted. The times were growing hard and it seemed impossible to go on and complete the church. A neighboring parish, more wealthy than ours, offered to buy or (sic) new plant and save us from ruin. Our vestry indignantly rejected the proposition and all took hold with renewed vigor. The rector alone during the winter secured a hundred new subscriptions. All the

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organizations in the parish, The Ladies' Aid, The Young Ladies' Guild, The Amateur Club, The Industrial School, The Temperance Society, and The Sunday School worked hard for the new church. The next spring and summer the building went forward and was completed in December, 1884.
     It was a great day for the parish and the rector when we moved from the old church, where water froze during the service, to our fine new church, which could seat a thousand people. We could not sell at that time the lots where the old church stood, so we had to borrow thirty thousand dollars. We were, however, in shape to do a glorious work in a rapidly growing city.
     With the help of the Brotherhood, we were carrying on several missions in and about the city. We started a new one in the south part of the city, which in two years became St. Luke's Church, with a rector of its own. The congregation at Gethsemane increased rapidly. During the six years of my rectorship I presented on an average fifty persons a year for confirmation. There were sometimes a hundred and fifty present at the confirmation lectures. When I took charge of Gethsemane, there were two hundred and seventy-four communicants on the roll. My last report as rector in 1889 showed seven hundred and sixty-five communicants, the largest number of any of our churches at that time west of Chicago. There were then in the parish three hundred and sixty-five families, one thousand, five hundred and thirty souls. Baptisms

Who Became a Bishop

for the last year were ninety-two, confirmations sixty, marriages fourteen, burials thirty-five. The wonderful growth during those six years was due partly to our new church, partly to the rapid growth of the city, partly to my noble lay helpers and not entirely to the efforts of the rector. That I worked hard and joyously goes without saying. My Sunday duties for the first three years were generally as follows: Early communion, Sunday school, which I superintended, mid-day service and sermon, a short service and address at the county jail, a drive of six miles to Oak Grove or twelve miles to Minnetonka Mills for service and sermon, then back to Gethsemane for evening service and sermon. There were always two week evening services with addresses and daily service during Lent. After the first year, I had an assistant part of the time, which relieved me somewhat, though most of his time was given to the missions. In some of these years I made eighteen hundred parochial calls. I was secretary of the Board of Missions of the diocese and held a dozen or more parochial missions in the country parishes and mission stations. On the average, I preached two hundred and twenty times a year. The blessed fruits of these efforts which were abundant and apparent made the work simply glorious. Before I left, we sold the old church ground and rectory for thirty-five thousand dollars, which paid all our large debt except some interest money. That small amount alone prevented the consecration of the church. My family had increased to

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four children and with my comparatively small salary and no rectory, it was not easy to meet expenses. While the parish was in debt, I would not demand more salary, but the vestry did eventually increase it to two thousand dollars and house rent.
     For recreation, which was much needed at times, I ran out to some of the neighboring lakes for fishing or to the forest for a hunt. Two or three days out of door would enable me to sleep and invigorate me for the work. My vacation of three weeks was taken in September, that being the time in the far north when recreation is most invigorating and most needed for the strenuous work of fall and winter. With Rev. C. H. Plummer, of Lake City, Minnesota, and one or two other friends, we would go to the head waters of some branch of the Mississippi and float down in canoes, camping on the banks at night. Those streams ran through the great pine forests of northern Wisconsin and Minnesota. Sometimes we would not see a white man for ten days, but only a few Chippeway Indians. We always got ducks and fish enough for meat and several times we got deer. Once we got a shot at a large, black bear. He was opening clams on the shore and Mr. Plummer got a hurried shot from the boat. The adventure is described as follows by Mr. Isaac Richardson, one of our party, in the Lake City Sentinel:
     "I jumped ashore with my gun loaded with duck shot, hardly knowing which end to shoot from. Parson Plummer followed with his Winchester rifle. Par-

Who Became a Bishop

son Graves, who was not quite so excited, took a second's time to change his charge from duck shot to buck shot, then jumped ashore. We all dove into the brush without any caution whatever. Suddenly I saw the bear coming from the quarter where Parson Graves was beating the bush. Parson Plummer was only just in time to get a glimpse of the bear's retreating form, moving away with a rolling, shambling, but speedy gait, into a densely wooded swamp, just as Parson Graves, who is quick and active, came bounding along, his gun over his head and passing us without a look, followed on through mire and brush and, like the bear, soon disappeared in the thick undergrowth. How far he went or where he stopped, we do not know and, after waiting what seemed to us a long time, we blew the signal whistle for him to return.
     "Like a deer hound on the trail, he reluctantly gave up the chase and returned, boots and clothes wet and muddy, hat turned hindside front, face scratched and looking as though he had been up to Oshkosh, having some fun with the boys, exclaiming, as the butt of his gun rested on the ground, 'Boys, we ought to have had the fellow.'"
     Some allowance should be made for the heroic coloring of the above. That evening I got my first deer. I was hunting partridges and the deer, not seeing me, came bounding by. I quickly put a buck shot cartridge in my shot gun and brought him down. Those trips with the rowing and out-of-door life were very invigorating and of the greatest benefit to me. On one of them I gained ten pounds in weight in twelve days.

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N the diocesan convention of. Minnesota of 1889, I was elected a Delegate to the General Convention of the Church, which met in New York, in October of that year. I had no knowledge that Nebraska was to be divided and a new missionary district erected. Least of all, did I expect that the House of Bishops would think of me for the new missionary bishop. I suppose it must have been Bishops Knickerbacker, Whipple and Gilbert who suggested it to the House of Bishops, but, as their proceedings were in secret, I never knew. When Bishop Knickerbacker called me out of the House of Deputies and told me what had been done, it came like a thunderbolt from the clear sky. As the House of Deputies had also to approve or disapprove of the action, I withdrew until the matter was settled by a unanimous vote in my favor. What encomiums or criticisms were passed upon me there, I did not know, and did not need to know. My district was to be called the Jurisdiction of The Platte, and it contained fifty thousand square miles of western Nebraska.
     It was no easy matter for me to leave a large and enthusiastic parish of nearly eight hundred communicants and take charge of a vast, thinly-peopled country with less than four hundred communicants in the whole district. I had to take my growing family from con-

Who Became a Bishop

genial surroundings and the fine schools of Minneapolis to the pioneer life of a far western country. However, as the call came unsought, it seemed to come from Providence, and I thought it my duty to accept. On the first day of January, 1890, in Gethsemane Church, in the presence of a thousand people, including most all our clergy of Minnesota, many ministers of all denominations, the president of the State University and professors, I was consecrated bishop. Thus it was that the little farmer boy reached the highest rung in the ladder it was permitted him to climb. It was a day that brought tears and an overwhelming sense of responsibility as well as joy that cannot be expressed. That I, who had worked quietly and for the most part in secluded villages, should have been selected out of over four thousand clergymen of the Church, by all the bishops as best fitted to set up the standard of the Church in a new field and lay the foundations for another diocese, seemed almost beyond my comprehension. However, the thing was done, and it was now for me to explore and study my new field and adapt myself to the conditions I should find.
     My first official act as bishop, the second day after my consecration, was to confirm a class of ten in the little town of Montevideo, Minnesota, where I had previously held two parochial missions and been instrumental under God in bringing many to Christ. The second person on whom I laid my hands was a physician who, before I held my first mission there, had been

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a pronounced infidel. My next act was to confirm a class of twenty-six in Gethsemane Church, which I had prepared for confirmation before my consecration. On the sixth of January I started for my new field, stopping a day in Omaha to consult Church authorities there. My first visit in my own District of The Platte was to a town called Broken Bow, by urgent request of the people there. Their pastor, after getting drunk, had just left. The new church was sixteen hundred dollars in debt. The builders had placed liens upon it and there was every prospect that the building and four fine lots would be lost to the Church. It was thought that by borrowing one thousand dollars from the Church Building Fund Commission, the property might be saved. After the evening service with a full church, I gathered the women in one corner of the church and told them I would borrow the one thousand dollars if they would undertake to pay it off at the rate of two hundred dollars a year. I asked them to reorganize their guild then and there and lay their plans for work. I then gathered the men in the other corner of the church and secured pledges to the amount of seven hundred and fifty dollars toward the support of a new minister. I soon called a missionary who had returned from China, Rev. W. S. Sayres, to the work. In the next five years of drought and hardest times the debt was all paid, seventy-three persons had been confirmed and the missionary had gone to Michigan to

Who Became a Bishop

receive deserved honors there and later to become the general missionary, or archdeacon, of that diocese.
     The next day I went to Grand Island, where Church services had been held for a longer time than in any other place in my District. I found there a beautiful, new church, which cost seventeen thousand dollars, with a debt of ten thousand dollars on it and every prospect, as far as I could see, of losing their property. I hunted for some time to find the rector, and routed him out of bed at 11:00 A. M. He and the minister from Broken Bow had been carousing the night before. A few years later, in the hardest times, the Ladies' Guild there had paid two thousand dollars of the debt and the men of the parish had paid the rest of it. Later on this same Ladies' Guild built a good rectory and paid for it themselves. Then they bought and paid for a fine pipe organ, besides helping the vestry with the running expenses of the church.
     I next visited Kearney, where I found the aged rector, Rev. R. W. Oliver, D.D., and a small wooden church. I was sick with the grippe and a blizzard was raging, but I kept on with the work. The people at Kearney were enthusiastic to have me make Kearney my home. They promised to secure a Bishop's House for the district and eventually make the church there my cathedral. Inducements were also held out to me in Grand Island, Hastings and North Platte, those, with Kearney, being the only self-supporting parishes in the district. I eventually accepted the offer in

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Kearney. Evening receptions were given in my honor at Grand Island, Kearney and Hastings and everywhere I was warmly welcomed to my new field.
     Aside from these four parishes, I found two missionaries in the district, Rev. J. M. Bates in the country north of the Platte River and Rev. S. F. Myers at Arapahoe, south of the Platte. In the whole district there were six clergymen, nineteen places where services were being held, twelve churches or small chapels and three hundred and seventy-five communicants of the Church. Five railroads ran across the district from east to west. The country had been filling up rapidly with homesteaders and ranchmen, but the villages were all very small and far apart. Taking a missionary with me when I could, but often quite alone, I traversed these lines of railroad, stopping a day in each of the villages, holding service in the evening and making careful family lists of all interested in our Church. I often had to find a place to hold service after arriving in the towns and then go from house to house giving notice of the service. We generally had good congregations and usually several would stay afterwards to give me their names as interested in the Church. The service was printed on a leaflet and we directed the people as we went along what to do. We often had good responses where there was not a single member of our Church present. All were cordial to us and hopeful of the future.
     After going over the southern part of the district, I

Who Became a Bishop

returned to Minnesota in February to fill an engagement made before I was bishop. This was to hold a parochial mission of eight days in Marshall, Minnesota, where our Church had been lately planted by Rev. J. B. Halsey, then in charge. At first, the services were held in a small hall, but when that became crowded, the Methodists offered us their large church, which also became crowded. Before the mission was over, we had baptized twelve adults and confirmed fourteen persons. A church building was soon after built there and permanent work established. Before February was over, I was back again in The Platte, canvassing the towns on the newer railroads, enlarging the field of each missionary and dividing some fields to make room for additional missionaries as fast as I could find clergymen suited for our frontier work.
     Early in May I moved my family into a house purchased for the Church by the vestry of St. Luke's Church, Kearney. They raised by subscription in Kearney eight hundred dollars, and their rector secured twenty-five hundred dollars in the east for the purpose. The balance the vestry was unable to raise on account of crop failures and succeeding hard times. Some more came from the east through me to pay interest on the debt and I paid twenty-seven hundred dollars myself in the form of rent until all was paid.
     In September, at the earnest request of Bishop Gilbert, of Minnesota, who was overworked, I visited for him the missions among the Chippeway Indians in the

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extreme north of Minnesota. In company with the faithful missionary and old Seminary friend, Rev. J. A. Gilfillan, we traveled through the forests on a buckboard and in birch bark canoes over three hundred miles off the railroad. We visited eight scattered missions and I confirmed thirty Indians. These were prepared mostly by the Indian deacons working under Mr. Gilfillan. It was a most delightful trip, on which we found game sufficient for our party of Indian guides and boatmen. In one place I consecrated, just as the sun was going down, an Indian burying ground. We had some prayers and then we marched around the graveyard in single file singing. hymns. Another night we came to an Indian camp, where the Indians were drying a moose they had killed. There, in the gloomy darkness by the light of birch bark torches, I confirmed an Indian woman in the open air. The shining lake was on one side and our hymns were echoed from the dark forest on the other side. Each night the Indians would build up a great fire of logs, which would last all night and keep the damp and chill of the near-by river away. Sometimes we would portage from one lake or great bend in the river to another carrying the canoes and baggage half a mile across the land. The shores of the lakes were most beautiful. Near the banks was a strip of scrub oaks, whose leaves were crimson, back of them a belt of poplars, whose leaves were yellow and then for a background the great pine forests with their dark green foliage.

Who Became a Bishop

     In October I took my first trip east as bishop to attend the missionary council and a meeting of the House of Bishops in Pittsburg. I then went on farther east to raise money for our missionary work and for our school. In this I was reasonably successful and made a number of good friends, who were a great support and encouragement to our work for many years. It was on this trip that I found Mrs. Eva S. Cochran at Yonkers, who did so much to help found and build up our Church school.
     Before the end of November I was back in my District making visitations. At the end of the first year I found I had made three complete visitations of the District and had gone several times to the vacant or more important places. I had traveled twenty-one thousand seven hundred and forty-four miles. We had lost four clergymen and secured three new ones for our work. The summer of 1890 had been extremely dry, so that there was a crop failure almost complete. Many of the poorer people moved out of the country and many others suffered for food and clothing during the winter.



N February I held a parochial mission in Broken Bow, giving three services a day and delivering four addresses. In March I took the Lenten services in

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Kearney and prepared a class for confirmation in the absence of the rector. I began my spring visitations April 1st and kept steadily at them with two short breaks until the first of September. The last of April, while visiting our sod church at Kennedy, in the sand hills, I heard of a ranchman ten miles west of there, who was anxious to see me. Rev. Mr. Bates and myself drove over there and spent the day. I found the ranchman had been a groomsman at my own wedding in Vermont many years before. He now had a wife and young children and had been living several years in the sand hills. In his early home in Brattleboro, Vermont, within the sound of half a dozen church bells, he had cared nothing for churches or religion. Living on the lonely plains, "in close communion with nature and nature's God," he had come to think seriously of religion and his responsibility as head of a family. He now desired baptism for himself and his children, which we gave him after such instruction as the time permitted.
     In May I presented a petition from our Missionary District to the Council of the Diocese of Nebraska, asking for an equitable division of such Church funds as had been gathered from the whole state before our portion had been set off as a missionary district. We gave many strong reasons for such division, pleading also the poverty of our drought-stricken country. We got nothing, however, except some sympathy from two or three of the larger hearted speakers.

Who Became a Bishop

     Early in September, while visiting stations in the northern part of our District, I heard of a college mate of mine living at Swan Lake, twenty miles off the railroad. Rev. Mr. Bates and myself drove to his place, a little sod hut beside the lake. He was living alone and caring for a herd of cattle belonging to others. As there was no wood or coal in the country, he kept warm and did his cooking by burning hay. He would fill a wash boiler with hay packed hard, then turn it bottom side up over the open top of his stove. It would thus burn slowly and fall down as it burned. His food was largely biscuits baked in this way. Mr. Bates shot into a flock of blackbirds and brought down sixteen. These we dressed and baked in his oven as a relish to our meal of bacon and biscuit. I asked why he, a man of education and refinement, lived in such a place and in such a way. He looked up into my face with his large, hungry eyes and said, "Because it is twenty-five miles from a saloon." He had left college on account of his dissipation, had gone from bad to worse, until he had now become a hermit to escape temptation. Not long after he returned to his mother in New Jersey and died. there. The night we were at Swan Lake we held service in a sod house, at which fourteen were present. The men laughed to see us put on our robes, but at that service we baptized a woman and her daughter who had driven twenty miles to attend the service. They drove back to their home in the

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darkness of the night, but we, the next day, attempting to follow their course, got lost three times in the sand hills. We baptized the sick child of a ranchman on our way back. Mr. Bates, in driving into a pond for a duck we had shot, suddenly came to a deep place so the water ran into the buggy and wet our robes. Such little incidents break up the monotony of our work and add spice to the hard journeys we felt it our duty to make..
     In September, for my vacation, I joined our old party from Lake City, Minnesota. We went on the Northern Pacific Railroad to Perham on the Red River of the North and for two weeks floated in our canoes down that river through twelve lakes to Fergus Falls. We got many ducks and all the fish we could use. On my return, I attended and took active part in the Missionary Council of our Church, held that year in Detroit, Michigan.
     During that year we had bought an old school-house and fitted it up for a chapel at Holdrege; had done the same with an old saloon at St. Paul; bought property at Ord with a house on it for a rectory, using the parlor for services; built a neat new church at Callaway, and built a sod church in the sand hills, which cost one hundred and ten dollars.

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